October 9, 2003
NASA Engineer Fulfills His Dreams And Inspires Youth
Image left: Eduardo Adams says when he was young, he "read everything I could get my hands on that had to do with rockets."
When Eduardo Adams built his first rockets in his hometown of Mérida, the capital of the Yucatan region of Mexico, they were primarily made of discarded wood, empty cans, bottles, and a young boy's dreams of outer space.
Today, Adams works at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Ala., where he's building on those dreams -- with slightly more high-tech materials. Adams is a systems engineer in the Center's Engineering Directorate. He works on programs such as the X-37 flight demonstrator and the Orbital Space Plane, both next-generation launch technology programs that represent the future of space transportation.
Such a career would have come as no surprise to Adams in his youth. He was an avid reader, inspired to work on space vehicles after reading about German rocket scientist Werner von Braun, and the work being done in Huntsville.
"I read everything I could get my hands on that had to do with rockets," Adams said, whose three-car garage is stacked to the ceiling with books. It was all so fascinating, the idea of traveling into space. I would get excited just thinking about working for NASA. For a Yucatan boy, it was so foreign to us, but it was my dream," he said.
After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1978 and graduating from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., he taught elementary and high school science and math in Huntsville and nearby Scottsboro, Ala., for four years. Then a job announcement in the newspaper caught his eye: NASA was hiring. Adams joined the Materials and Processing Lab team at MSFC in 1979. "When I started here, I honestly had to thank God, because I knew my dreams had come true," he said.
While working in Huntsville, Adams continued to maintain ties to his homeland. He wanted to do something to spread the message of science and give something back to the area that had given him so much growing up.
In the summer of 2002, Adams found his opportunity. Thanks to his efforts, Yucatan Governor Patricio Patron Laviada welcomed Adams and former astronaut Dr. Jan Davis to Mérida. Davis, director of the Safety and Mission Assurance organization at MSFC, took part in a two-week tour of the Yucatan region. The visit included meetings with numerous state government officials and members of education communities in the area. Their presence was immediately felt.
"We could not have been welcomed with more open arms, not just by the officials, but also by the everyday people we met," Adams said. "We were on the television and in the papers, so when people would see us walking down the street they would shout, 'Hey, there's the astronaut lady!' It really was an overwhelming experience," he said.
Although the trip took place more than a year ago, Adams is still feeling the impact every day. He gets e-mails almost daily from students in the Yucatan, asking questions about science and math, as well as what it takes to work at NASA. "These kids are great," Adams said. "They are asking the right questions that will help them understand what it takes to do the things they dream about," he said.
"It's their dreams that will enable them to discover something new and amazing in their future," Adams added.
Media organizations interested in interviewing Adams should contact Dom Amatore, MSFC Media Relations at: 256/544-0034.
Other NASA employees' stories: Former NASA Co-Op Student Now Doing The Teaching
NASA's Dr. Shamim Rahman Advises Aspiring Scientists And Engineers
For more information about NASA on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov
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